Rewrite The Rules For Consumer Drug Ads

Prescription-drug advertising was once a simple business. Companies pitched their products only to doctors--and the Food & Drug Administration prescribed ad rules accordingly. That's why all ads that link a product's name to its use must include a "brief summary"--actually a long list of risks, precautions, side effects, and other information that physicians need. But times have changed. With once-fat margins threatened by low-price generic drugs and cost-conscious health insurers, companies are taking the bold step of advertising directly to consumers, hoping that patients will ask their doctors for pricey prescription products.

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